Transforming Renewal through a Charismatic-Catholic Encounter
An Experiment in Receptive Ecumenism
Keywords:pentecostal, charismatic renewal, monastic renewal, ecumenism, David Watson, Thomas Merton
Pentecostal-charismatic involvement in the ecumenical movement has grown over the last 50 years and with it the ecumenical focus on the work of the Holy Spirit. As Pentecostals and charismatics have become more positive about ecumenical involvement, others have sensed problems growing within ecumenical discussions with the goal of visible unity moving further away. One way being pioneered in this context is that of “receptive ecumenism” seen as a transformational process of growth enabled by the Holy Spirit. In charismatic terms this is can be seen as a movement that seeks renewal through engagement with other Christian traditions. This article seeks to explore how charismatic renewal might learn from engagement with monastic renewal in the Roman Catholic Tradition. In particular it engages with significant leaders in these traditions: David Watson and Thomas Merton. The question addressed in the paper will be: “What can the charismatic tradition, represented by Watson, appropriately learn with integrity from the Roman Catholic tradition, represented by Merton?” The theme of renewal is a broad one that covers all aspects of existence in the church and world. Yet renewal is rooted in the initiatives of the triune God and there is thus a theological heart that will provide a focus for this article. We will first outline Watson’s understanding of God in renewal and then compare this to that of Merton, so as to see what might be learned. Hence this article seeks to explore the challenges that remain to be explored in the charismatic understanding of renewal through an ecumenical engagement across disciplines of study that are not often brought together.
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